Downward Facing Dog Pose Yoga
Practice,  Yoga Terms

What Is The Downward Dog Pose – Adho Mukha Svanasana

What Is The Downward Dog Pose

One of the most popular yoga poses in the western world is the Downward Facing Dog pose, you’ve probably heard the name once or twice in your life or maybe even a hundred times in your yoga studio. Asking yourself what is the downward dog pose in yoga shouldn’t be an embarrassing question at all! Never keep your questions to yourself! Once you start practicing yoga, whether at home or at your local yoga studio you will find out that the downward dog is a famous pose in Astanga, Vinyasa and other yoga classes.

Knowing what is the downward dog pose and how to do it properly is important in order to avoid unnecessary pain or injury. Doing the downward dog correctly will give your whole body a wonderful stretch and especially your spine and hamstrings (keep reading of all the benefits of the downward dog pose in yoga).

DO NOT Do The Downward Dog Pose If:

Whenever starting a new sport (what? is yoga a sport?) you should always listen to your body’s limits. Especially in yoga, never let yourself stay in a pose if you feel pain, I always say that yoga is like a self-massage to your body, respect your body’s limit. If you have any medical concerns definitely talk to your doctor before trying yoga or any new sport.

  • If you feel any pain in the pose stop immediately.
  • If you have any injuries in the back, shoulders, neck arms.
  • If you are in late-term pregnancy.

Read More About The Helth Benefits of Yoga

Downward Dog in Sanskrit – What is the Sanskrit name for Downward Facing Dog?

Sanskrit is the ancient language of India, all yoga poses have a name in Sanskrit.

Adho Mukha Svanasana

The translation is very straightforward:

  • Adho meaning downward.
  • Mukha meaning face.
  • Svana meaning dog.
  • Asana meaning pose.

How to do the downward dog properly

Follow these simple steps and enjoy your pose:

  • Begin on all fours. Place your knees and feet on the ground while your shoulders are right above your wrists.
Step 1 – Knees and feet on the ground, shoulders above wrists.
  • Stretch your elbows and straighten your knees to create an upside down ‘V’ shape with your body.
Step 2 – Create an upside down ‘V’ shape with your body.
  • You don’t have to straighten your knees. If it is too difficult, simply bend your knees and keep your spine in a straight line.
Downward Facing Dog Pose
If needed – Bend your knees and keep your spine in a straight line
  • Breath in this posture for 5 deep breaths and notice where in the body you feel this stretch (a positive feeling of a stretch, if you feel pain get out of the pose).

==>For a more detailed explanation on how to properly do the downward facing dog pose <==

The benefits of downward facing dog pose

The first couple of times you practice this pose your downward dog won’t be perfect and you won’t even understand how this is considered a resting pose. But believe me, after a few times of practicing the downward facing dog pose you will feel the true benefits of downward facing dog:

  • Strengthening the legs, thighs, hamstrings.
  • Strengthening the upper back, shoulders, arms, and wrists.
  • Can relief headaches and fatigue.
  • Creates space for a calm mind.

When you are in the pose, try to concentrate on your deep breathing and notice what areas of your body need your attention, breath into those tense places in your body and enjoy the massage-like stretch you are giving your whole body.

A More Advanced Downward Facing Dog – Downward Facing Dog Variation

If you want to step up your downward dog pose try to lift one leg in the air and breath in that pose for 5 deep breaths.

Advanced Downward Facing Dog Pose
Advanced Downward Facing Dog Pose

My Experience With This Pose?

When I just started practicing yoga I was upset that my legs weren’t straight, that it was difficult to stay in this pose for more than a few seconds. As time went by I didn’t give up and continued exploring the downward dog pose and learning more about my body and my limits. Now when I practice my sun salutation I very much enjoy staying in the downward dog pose and consider it a rest from the other poses in the sequence.

If you are not there yet, don’t give up. Your downward dog will benefit you in ways only future can tell.

Have you tried this pose before? Do you have any good tips for a perfect downward facing dog pose?

Share your thoughts in the comment box below.


Thanks for reading,




  • Amber

    I love reading your yoga blog, they really do make me want to stand up and get my yoga mat out, but I don’t have much time, here is an idea for one of your blog posts. When will be a good time to get my mat out with all the other work I have to do. Keep up the good work.

    • Paulina

      Hi Amber,
      Thank you so much for your kind words. I do try to write from the heart and I am glad to know you like reading what I write.
      I actually do have a post about when is a good time to do yoga 😉 You can check it out here.
      Let me know if you have any questions 🙂

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